Campaign launches today encouraging Brits to Make It Your Decision and record their medical care and treatment wishes in case tragedy strikes

  • Make It Your Decision is the first campaign to urge people to think about and record their wishes in an Advance Decision, should injury or illness leave them unable to make these decisions for themselves in future
  • Research released today finds a third worry about the care they’d be given in such a situation; a fifth worry they’d be given treatment they wouldn’t want

A new campaign, Make It Your Decision, launches today, the first ever to focus on encouraging Brits to think about the unthinkable and consider what treatment they would or wouldn’t want should tragedy strike. Launched by Compassion in Dying, Make It Your Decision informs people that while no one includes an accident or illness in their plans for the future, there are things you can do now to ensure your wishes for medical care and treatment are known and respected in case the worst does happen.

Compassion in Dying has produced a new animation and website encouraging people to think about and record their wishes, such as by completing a free Advance Decision to Refuse Treatment. The charity has also produced posters which will be sent to every GP surgery in the country, highlighting the importance of planning ahead for your care and treatment.

In research released today, a third (32%) of people said they worry about the care they would be given if they suddenly lost the capacity to make their own decisions, and over a fifth (22%) worry that they’d be given medical treatment they would not want. An Advance Decision allows you to make a legally binding record of what treatment you would not want to receive in certain situations, giving you peace of mind that if tragedy strikes you can still have control over these crucial decisions.

Polling also found that a third (33.4%) of people said they’d trust their family to make decisions about their care – but in the absence of an Advance Decision or a Lasting Power of Attorney for Health and Welfare, loved ones have no automatic right to enforce a patient’s wishes. Instead it falls to doctors to make best interest decisions on a patient’s behalf.

In addition, one in 10 (12%) didn’t feel that an Advance Decision was something they needed to consider because they were currently healthy, or because they didn’t expect anything to happen to them anytime soon (11%). But the unfortunate reality is that anyone could sustain a sudden life-changing injury or receive an unexpected diagnosis of a disease that could diminish your mental capacity.

Lindsey Briggs, 39 from Merseyside, is backing the campaign. Lindsey’s husband Paul, a Gulf War veteran and police officer, was left in a minimally-conscious state following a motorbike collision in 2015 at the age of just 42.

Lindsey explained:

“We all knew what Paul’s wishes would have been – that he wouldn’t have wanted to be kept alive in that state – but we were powerless to do anything about it. Paul hadn’t written an Advance Decision, which would have given doctors instructions to respect his wishes and withdraw life-prolonging treatment. You assume as someone’s wife of 15 years that you’ll be able to speak for your husband, but that’s not the case. It’s shocking to find that you can’t. I just hope our tragedy can have some positive impact – to show people how important it is to record your wishes when you’re fit and well, as accidents can happen to anyone.”

Usha Grieve, Director of Information and Partnerships at Compassion in Dying, said:

“No one includes a serious accident or illness in their plans for the future – but fortunately there are things you can do now to prepare. By recording your wishes while you are well and able, it means that if the worst does happen, what’s important to you will be known, respected and followed.

“What’s more, it’s easy and free and can be done with support at your own pace, without the need to involve a lawyer.

“Having your wishes recorded will give you and your family peace of mind that they won’t be left stranded if you become unable to say what you want. Your doctors won’t be left to make decisions without knowing what you would or wouldn’t have wanted. Quite the opposite – by recording your wishes in a legally binding way, you can make it your decision.”

***ENDS***

For further information, photos or interview requests, please contact Ellie Ball at ellie.ball@compassionindying.org.uk  or 020 7479 7732 / 07725 433 025.

Notes to Editor:

The research for Compassion in Dying was carried out online by Opinion Matters between 12/12/2016 and 16/12/2016 amongst a panel resulting in 1966 UK Adults. All research conducted adheres to the MRS Codes of Conduct (2010) in the UK and ICC/ESOMAR World Research Guidelines. Opinion Matters is registered with the Information Commissioner’s Office and is fully compliant with the Data Protection Act (1998).On 23rd December the Court of Protection ruled that Paul could lawfully be taken off life support and be moved to a hospice to receive palliative care. Paul passed away on 21st January 2017.

Paul Briggs: On 20th December the Court of Protection ruled that Paul could lawfully be taken off life support and be moved to a hospice to receive palliative care. Paul passed away on 21st January 2017.
Mental capacity: the ability to make or communicate a decision for yourself. It depends on the decision that needs to be made – you may have capacity to decide what you want for lunch but not about serious medical intervention. You can lack capacity if you have an impairment or disturbance of the mind or brain, and because of impairment you can’t understand, retain, or take into account information relating to a decision, or communicate that decision.

An Advance Decision (to Refuse Treatment): a legal way of recording your wish to refuse medical treatment in certain circumstances, to be followed if you lose capacity to make or communicate decisions about your treatment or care in future through accident or illness. It has also been known as a ‘living will’ or ‘advance directive’. There is no standard Advance Decision format, rather there are just requirements any Advance Decision must meet to be valid. If it does so it must be legally respected by a doctor. Compassion in Dying is the UK’s leading provider of free Advance Decisions.

An Advance Statement: a document which allows you to record your wishes and preferences for future care and treatment, such as your religious or spiritual beliefs or where you’d like to be cared for. It is not legally binding but does have legal weight, so should be taken into account when making decisions about your care.

Lasting Power of Attorney for Health and Welfare: allows you to give one or more trusted persons the legal power to make decisions about your health and welfare if you lose capacity. The person who grants power is known as the ‘Donor’ and the person appointed to make decisions is the ‘Attorney’.

Make It Your Decision is a campaign by Compassion in Dying, supported by organisations such as The Royal Society for Public Health, Progressive Supranuclear Palsy Association, Advance Decisions Assistance, Once I’ve Gone, and Medic Alert.

Compassion in Dying is a charity (no. 1120203) aiming to support people at the end of life to have what they consider to be a good death by providing information and support around their legal rights and choices. We are a leading provider of free Advance Decisions (known as Advance Directives in Scotland) in the UK and we also conduct and review research around patient rights and choices in end-of-life care. We provide free support for people to plan ahead for a time that they may lack capacity to make decisions about their treatment, including a free information line 0800 999 2434 and a free website which allows members of the public to make a an Advance Decision/Directive or Advance Statement, www.mydecisions.org.uk.